Friday, 31 July 2015

Baroness Howe at it again

Once again mentioned in The Lords, albeit more indirectly: "One of them even boasted of the fact that it deliberately did not filter". That pretty much has to be us, A&A.

Would she be so condescending to a phone company saying that they do not listen to, and filter, what you say on the phone, I wonder?

Once again, I say to the Baroness here:
  1. We already offer our customers an unavoidable choice regarding filtering when ordering.
  2. We already confirm customers are over 18, and are happy to link to any freely available external validation system that she wishes to put in place for that.
  3. We already provide help and advice for parents wishing to actually be parents and look after their children.
For those that do not know, the choice is like this :-

I have removed the comment about moving to North Korea if you want filtering. At this rate, their ISPs will be suggesting you come to the UK for censorship!

We already (as you see in that image) suggest we can set up alternative DNS (e.g. OpenDNS) that can avoid children accidentally accessing unsavoury parts of the Internet. This is about the best any ISP could actually do as anyone determined to access something can easily bypass the filters any ISPs include.

We also lack the actual evidence that access to porn is harmful anyway. I would be happy to stop my kids (when they were younger) accidentally finding smut on the Internet, but if my son accessed it when he was in his teens, that is not something I could have stopped even if I wanted to, and is there actual evidence that it is a problem? What we need is education so that young adults understand the context of porn - like any fiction on TV depicting unreal scenarios and not "how you do things in a real relationship".

Of course, we also have the fact that such filtering it likely to fall foul of EU wide net neutrality rules that are coming in to place.

We also have the fact that such filters are against mere conduit EU rules, and perhaps even against the Computer Misuse Act.

I assume her Bill will, again, fall flat on its face. If it does not, it seems we will have little problem complying and probably already do.

P.S. Sorry if not obviously, but if you pick the "Censored" option you cannot place your order and the message suggests you choose another ISP. That is a choice anyone can make.


  1. I realise it's off topic but I've nowhere else to enquire. Why, when I go to the website, do I get the following cookie message at the top: "This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalise ads and to analyse traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies."

    This only started very recently and I cannot believe you would wilfully consort with google in this way. Has this site been hacked in some manner?

    1. It is google blogspot that run the site.

  2. But our secret service act like Jack Bauer, our politicians like House of cards, or cops worst than The East. So I can understand why the baroness might get confuse about porn being a true reflection of real life relationships.... And the way it's going it might very well end like V for Vendetta.

  3. I recently set my 4 year old daughter up with an old laptop running openSUSE. She likes playing the CBeebies games and I thought about how I would go about allowing her to access that and only that for the time being. I eventually set up iptables (via firehol) to generally allow outbound traffic unless it's coming from her user account. She can access localhost though, where I run Privoxy with a very short whitelist. It's remarkably effective and I could probably come up with something LAN-wide when she starts picking up other devices. At this age, she's not even trying to go anywhere else but it gives me great peace of mind - way more than I'd get from the bloody government's filter!

    1. > it gives me great peace of mind - way more than I'd get from the bloody government's filter!

      And it sounds like a very neat set-up.

      One might take what you are saying as a suggestion that the government should be compelling OS manufacturers to build in better controls, so that choice (and control) of filtering remains in the endpoints and not within the network. However, providers of Internet access to UK subscribers tend to have a point of presence in the UK, and so are perhaps more easily brought within the scope of legislation than companies based overseas producing software (although most of the big OS companies do have presence domestically in this case), and are thus perhaps a more attractive target.

      If those who run networks at home want to filter/block on their own domestic networks, I'd see that as their choice entirely — and it is what I choose to do, to enable easier cross-platform ad blocking. I have often wondered whether there is a sufficiently viable market for a simple, plug-and-play box to attach to a router, which a less technically able parent/guardian/network controller can configure to filter some or all the traffic on their network, to really put them in control.

  4. Wow, the level of ignorance in that circle-jerk of grandstanding in the House of Lords is really quite staggering.

    1. The suggestion that "children's rights" are being violated by ISPs that don't provide filtering, when it's the responsibility of parents to control their children's internet usage, and the parents can simply choose a different ISP if they want filtering.

    2. Hand-wringing over the the possibility of children disabling the filters themselves, then rambling for several paragraphs about the fact that adults might not bother to read the advisory email indicating that the filters had been disabled. Why the hell would children be given the administrative login for the filter configuration in the first place?

    3. Endlessly regurgitating the "pictures cause violence" dogma which has been spoon-fed to them by shrill ideologues like the NSPCC and EVAW, whose "evidence" (if they bother with it at all) largely consists of blatant correlation fallacies such as asking convicted sex offenders if they've ever looked at porn.

    4. The attempt to expand the supposed benefits of filtering to adults with pornography addiction, when adults can simply disable the filters any time they want.

    5. Suggesting that age verification can be successfully enforced via payment processors withholding money from sites that do not comply. Yes, this might work for gambling sites because gambling REQUIRES money. Last time I checked, pornography can easily be obtained from the internet without paying anything.

    6. When they're tired of banging the usual "think of the children" drum, they start going on about the cost of "relationship collapse". So now the nanny state is trying to regulate the relationships of adults? Let's introduce fines and mandatory re-education courses for single people too.

    1. Picking up on that last point; point six. Yes this appalled me too. Correlation isn't causation; in fact in this case I strongly suspect porn "addiction" (not a real thing with evidence for it) causing relationships to break down is more likely to be a SYMPTOM of a failing relationship.

  5. What really upsets me about these 'Protect the Children' initiatives is the fact these systems are technically so easy to circumvent Parents and carers of Children are in essence being lulled into a false sense of security that their kids are protected because their 'Big ISP' has a system in place.

    That's not Child Protection it is responsibility avoidance by politicians and parents of those Children. Of course not ever child has a responsible parent or carer but hey, were already being pushed to become an ISP law enforcement and monitoring of criminals industry so why not give us the social services role too.